And I forgot about it.
It happened six years ago. I was invited by a friend to join a group of Fuji X-Photographers for a photowalk, and I was handed a Fujifilm X20 to test out. Everyone knew I was a film photographer and I guess they were curious about how I’d fare and find shooting digital for a day. The biggest struggle was trying to learn the controls in maybe 15 minutes or so, until I decided to shoot in the best way I know when I am allowed to fiddle with settings: manual mode.
Now, I don’t really remember much about the whole shoot other than:
1. There was a lot of rushing around but I was trying to shoot at my own pace – something important when you’re shooting around the hot and humid chaos of Manila;
2. Not fiddling with anything else but the manual controls (and zoom, I think) per shot because I was getting okay results that way anyway;
3. Switching to black and white mode halfway during the shoot in my attempt to place emphasis on composition rather than all the dizzying mix of colors around me. When I had the chance to sit down with the 100+ photos I ended up with, I found that I didn’t really like them, so I promptly forgot about them.
Well, six years later, I ended up pushing myself to look at them again, this time maybe a little bit more objectively. As someone who writes about impressive photography projects on a daily basis, this is definitely daunting. So, out of 100+, I somewhat liked only 9 of them.
So, what do you think? I’m really curious. Objectively, of course.
Going back to Penang after four years was something that was as emotional as I thought it would be. But, I also made sure not to be so trigger-happy with my camera, so I came back with a better idea of what I want to capture on film. One of the places I made sure not to miss this time was the Clan Jetties, Penang’s traditional seaside village on stilts. Parts of it now mostly cater to tourists, serving as eateries and souvenir shops. I decided to steer away from that and focused instead on the human interactions happening as I roamed the village.
There are a total of six clans that still call the jetty their own, but I think I only managed to check out (and take photos around) three of them. More reason to go back and spend maybe half a day exploring its nooks and crannies!
Photos shot using Nikon FE2 and Kodak Ultima 100 (expired).
I’ll be back in Singapore in two weeks, and all the planning has prompted me to revisit some of my photos from my last visit in 2016. Whenever I’m in such a vibrant and cosmopolitan city, I feel that doing street photography is inevitable even if I’m hardly any good at it. In fact, I think I pretty much suck. But, I can sometimes be persistent enough to believe that I’ll eventually figure it all out and start getting better. So I take to the streets anyway – at least when I’m traveling, because everything seems to catch my eyes.
But, as for these photos from two years ago, I’ve long forgotten about them as I didn’t really like them at first. After I left them forgotten and marinating in my hard drive for so long, I think I’ve cleared myself of all the initial emotional detachment or resentment. I looked at them recently with a different eye and mindset, and I was finally able to cull a selection.
I took the photos using color negative film. Out of curiosity, I wanted to see what they looked like in black and white. Sometimes, a photo just works better with all the colors stripped off. And it also kind of made sense in a symbolic way – both colors and memories fade.
I’m definitely shooting street again once I’m back in Singapore. These photos aren’t that good yet, but maybe if I keep going, I’ll get there.
Photos taken using Nikon FE2 + Fuji Superia 400 (converted to black and white)
A couple of days before 2017 ended, I did one last portrait practice with Cass and shot with an Agfa Vista 400 for the first time. It was nothing fancy, just a mix of “coffee shop theme” portraits indoors and some outdoor snaps in the late afternoon. All was well until my Nikon FE2’s advance lever started malfunctioning towards the end of my roll. I had no choice but to reload the film and hope that I’d still get some good shots despite risking double exposures. As I feared, a bunch of the frames got double exposed. Some look interesting enough to share, but I don’t really know what to feel about them as I think some of the shots would also have been great as individual photos.
As for the frames that didn’t get double-exposed, here are the ones that I liked. Nothing special, as I said, just a quick exercise in shooting indoors as I mostly work outdoors to make the most out of the natural light. Also, I often thought of doing a relaxed, cozy set with Cass during our first few shoots together. But, we always ended up shooting outdoors to chase the light because I was always shooting with low ISO films. I thought that an indoor shoot would allow us to work with different poses, angles, and even interesting light towards the Golden Hour. Hopefully, we’ll have all of those soon in our next shoot!